Meet Doaa Abdel-Motaal, Member of Guarini Institute for Public Affairs

by Cristian Michael Tracci

An environment and climate change expert, Dr. Doaa Abdel-Motaal traveled through the Antarctic and the Arctic and published the book  Antartica: The Battle for the Seventh Continent  (Praeger, 2016).  

Dr. Doaa Abdel-Motaal

Dr. Doaa Abdel-Motaal

What is your background?
My father was a diplomat and I grew up in 12 different countries. I was born in Belgium and spent only 7 years in Egypt. I obtained my undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College in the United States. At the end of my undergraduate studies, I went back to Egypt to launch a children’s literacy project, funded by the Swarthmore College Foundation. I felt I had to “give something back” to my country. I later worked for the Egyptian Ministry of Environment, as my real passions have always been environmental issues and climate change. I joined the Ministry at a time in which Egypt’s first unified environmental law was being passed.

I have since obtained a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge in Environment and Development Studies, and a Doctorate in Development Studies from the University of Geneva. I worked for the World Trade Organization on environmental and agricultural issues for many years, and became the advisor to the head of the organization and the Deputy Chief of Staff. I later became Chief of Staff of the International Fund for Agricultural Development based in Rome.

What are your current projects?
I am currently on a research sabbatical fulfilling a lifelong dream of writing about, and traveling to, the world’s polar regions. My book Antarctica, the Battle for the Seventh Continent comes out in September. I am now working on a new book entitled Climate Migration, Redrawing the Map of the World.

How have you been influenced by so many changes in your childhood?
They have determined who I am today. Sometimes I feel that you can drop me anywhere and I won’t have a problem. I will quickly learn the language, make new friends, and find myself eating the local food. Who am I? An example of a new breed of human beings perhaps! A global citizen, with international roots.

How did you get to know JCU and the Guarini Institute?
While working on my book, I reached out to the Italian academic community. I contacted Professor Argentieri who helped integrate me into the Italian academic scene. Soon, this culminated in my becoming a member of the Guarini Institute‘s Advisory Council.

You are about to publish a book on Antarctica. Tell us more about it.
It is a forward looking book that argues that the governance model of the continent must urgently be revisited. It cautions against a disorderly break-up of the Antarctic Treaty System if the world fails to do so. The continent’s climate is changing, and there is far more knowledge about its mineral resources. It also now covered in scientific research stations, including those from countries as far away as China, South Korea and India.

Dr. Doaa Abdel-Motaal is the newest member of The Guarini Institute for Public Affairs Advisory Council.